Within the Church of Christ community there seems to be three types of “thinkers.” I say thinkers just because there’s always been a large percentage of people who don’t think for themselves and just follow the crowd that they’ve been following for years without giving it much thought. Usually that crowd includes Mom and/or Dad and probably a grandparent or two. Back to the “thinkers.” For those of us who have given thought to either what they preach, what they hear preached or what our Bishops tell us (err . . . I mean editors of big-time publications) we seem to fall into one of the three following categories: first is that everything is great. The Church of Christ is the Church of the New Testament and unless you are a member of one then you are going to you know where. Along with that comes the standard doctrinal positions on musical instruments, style of worship, clapping hands, MDR, etc, etc. Probably the greatest description is the thought that someone has to be “right” . . . and it’s me.
The second group has been just as thoughtful. They listen to the sermons, read what the Bishops write (oops, I did it again), I mean read with the editors publish and then read the Bible with their own eyes and discern and interpret for themselves. They often come away with some very different interpretations and conclusions, and their okay with that. They’re comfortable with being different; with not toeing the denominational line. They’re not scared of being kicked out of the highly exclusive country club and being called names. I admire that, a lot.
Then there’s the third group that I mentioned. I’ve been in this group, well, for a few years now. This group is really a lot like the second. The difference is we’re a bunch of chickens. Maybe that’s too strong. Maybe some of us are prudent and using discernment. But really, since we’re being honest let’s just call it straight. Most of us are chickens. We’re scared. I’ve tried everything to justify and rationalize my position. Even to the point of convincing myself that being scared isn’t bad. How silly is that? Choosing to live that lie is emotionally and spiritually crippling and it causes confusion and pain. It’s like wanting to believe that there’s a Santa Claus so badly that you refuse to buy any gifts for your kids, hoping that Santa will drop them off. Are you serious???
IF YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THEN WHY NOT STAND UP FOR IT!!! (I’m not yelling at you. I’m actually yelling at myself. Since I seem to respond to fear and intimidation I’m trying a little reverse psychology). Well, here’s my answer. Because people won’t be my friends anymore. They will say bad things about me behind my back. Because they will write bad things about me for the public to see. They’ll tell people who know and love me that I’ve gone off and am going to you know where. They might make it hard for me to get a job because I’m not “sound”. They might make it hard for me to keep the job I have because I’m not “sound”. Shall I keep going? Yes, okay here’s a few more. Because it may embarrass my family and relatives (believe it or not, being the grandson who became a preacher comes with a big yoke). Because it would give people who ever doubted me or didn’t like more ammunition. Okay, enough of that. You get the point.
Back to the main thought of the post. Now this is as honest as I can be . . . I’m trying to convince myself to stop being afraid and start living with the faith and boldness that I preach to people each Sunday. I guess, in some ways at least, I’ve been a hypocrite for so long. That should help people to realize how bad things have gotten in the Churches of Christ. A grown, well-educated man who has a great family has been paralyzed by fear to the point that he struggles to even be honest with himself. You think there might be a problem???
Here’s the point. Until the folks in the middle, folks like me, decide to stand up for what they believe in, things will not get better. In fact, they will probably continue to deteriorate. Churches will continue to die of spiritual starvation. Christians will continue to go to other faith families who don’t fight as much and are at least real enough to address their problems and inconsistencies. And the ones that don’t leave for another family will leave Christ altogether. As much as I’m scared of all those things I mentioned, I’m more scared of the God who fried Sodom and Gomorrah. And I don’t want him upset with me because Satan snuck in the back door while I was curled up in the corner.
There’s not a whole lot of people who read my blog. But there’s some. Because I’ve gotten several private emails from people who think like I do–and are scared like I HAVE BEEN scared. Now, when I say “think like I do”, I don’t mean that we’re ready to hire a Joyce Meyer or Paula White to fill the next opening. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is that I (and they) want actual Biblical answers that make sense. Enough with this silence argument. It just takes 5 minutes to blow huge holes in it. Many of the answers from the first type of “thinker” just doesn’t fly. They are based on implications, man-made interpretation rules and generations of bias. For some of us that just doesn’t work.
I’ve got two weeks until grad school starts back up. So that means I’ve got two weeks of having the time for extra studying and writing. So for those who are interested, I’m going to ask the questions that so many have asked. And instead of giving the traditional answers. Or even the answers that some antagonists from the other side have given. I’m just going to guide us through the Bible. I’ve gone through these questions before. But this should be good for me to do it again. Be patient. There won’t be any cutting and pasting of old stuff. Everything will be fresh. Let’s see where the Bible takes us.
I’ll close by saying this. I’m going to take the Bible and work through the issues that we (Church of Christ) can’t stop arguing about. As far as covering the issues, that horse has been dead a long time. Unless God gives me some special revelation, you’re not going to hear any new evidence unearthed or any arguments made in a more eloquent manner. There’s many people out there more talented than I who have already sailed that ship. Honestly, this is more for me than anyone else. I’m really using this as an opportunity to build my self-confidence up so that I can become the preacher and church leader that God has called me to be. I do hope that something I write edifies and encourages you. And believe me, I will be praying for you. With that, may God bless and keep you. Amen.